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National Interest: There will be no war


According to C. Hendrickson

Putin's stated vision for Russia and Ukraine is not to unite in a common state, but in a relationship that exists between the United States and Canada, in which people of common origin cooperate and benefit from their relationship, but still have separate states.

What are we observing? I'm referring to the two month frenzy that swept through the Western media as Vladimir Putin pulled 175,000 troops to the Ukrainian border for an invasion that was about to begin right away. The Washington Post started on December 3, 2021 with such big numbers, duly followed by others: Putin threatened to invade and mobilized his forces to finally break up Ukraine; President Joe Biden ordered the evacuation of embassies in Ukraine and Belarus; he also told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that blood would almost certainly flow on the streets of Kiev, the country's capital; "Get ready to hit" soon, probably in February.

And then something amazing happened. The Ukrainian president, from whom all this information was supposed to come, in fact, denied everything: it’s not true, you are panicking about Ukraine, damaging its economy, and, moreover, there is really nothing unusual in the movements of Russian troops. The people of Ukraine, soon to be razed to the ground, remained unconcerned while the US was on the brink of a nervous breakdown.

Biden made it clear in December that US troops would not be sent to Ukraine in the event of a Russian invasion, ruling out US involvement in the war, but touted the threat of devastating economic sanctions as a deterrent. Biden also made a distinction between minor and major Russian incursions, which many commentators have dismissed as an oversight. Zelenskiy complained about this, tweeting: “We want to remind great powers that there are no small invasions and small nations. Just as there are no small victims and a little grief from the loss of loved ones. I say this as the president of a great power."

The most striking takeaway from Zelenskiy's comments is that the fear of war has been created in the United States. To understand why Zelenskiy doesn't see war as inevitable, we have to go back to April, when the first big threat of a Russian invasion arose. A year earlier, Azerbaijan demonstrated in a conflict with Armenia that Turkish and Israeli drones can destroy fortified positions and put defenders to flight. The Atlantic Council, a nest of Washington hawks on Ukraine, was quick to note the relevance of this demonstrated new capability to the frozen conflict in Donbas.

The new team in the White House, following exactly the scenario voiced by the Atlantic Council, stated that the issues of Crimea and Donbass should be returned to the negotiating table. This means, as Biden's official explained, "very extensive and almost constant attention to Ukraine from day one." According to the Democrats, Donald Trump was an unscrupulous appeaser of Putin, Putin's puppet.

The air was saturated with wild interpretations of Russian motifs. As portrayed in the Western press, it is Putin and the Russians who are eager to change the status quo. He wants to conquer and absorb Ukraine. He wants to restore the Soviet Union. He wants to bring Russia back to the same geopolitical position that the Soviet Union had in 1945. He wants to drive the US out of Europe. Because American Russia experts assume that you can't believe a word Putin says, they are exempt from any evidentiary restraint in explaining what he wants. Since they hypothetically rule out that he might have had defensive motives, it remains to choose targets ranging from aggressively obnoxious to insanely aggressive.

Hawks are not ashamed to invent. Putin, they say, threatens war every day to take over Ukraine. In fact, it is the United States and its media sycophants who talk about what Putin says and does. The Russian president himself says that military deployments mean nothing, and the Russian Foreign Ministry almost every day reminds people that war does not threaten the region.

As for Putin's alleged desire to conquer and swallow Ukraine, it must be remembered that Ukraine, a nation of 43.3 million people, would be impossible to effectively and profitably govern from Moscow, and to attempt to do so decisively would require enormous financial and political costs.

So, assuming that a vigorous anti-Russian turn in Ukrainian politics is seen by Putin as a big problem, it remains very difficult to see how the use of force can solve it. Some Russian-speaking figures talk about such a rescue operation, but not Russian officials or legislators. It is impossible to get a clear picture of how the Russian-speaking population outside the Donbass will react to Putin's move, which would have entailed significant human and material losses. For most Russian-speaking people in Ukraine this would not look like what they would like. If they don't want to, Russia will have minimal desire to give it to them.

So Biden was wrong, and Zelensky was right. There will be no war. What US intelligence came up with is fiction. The fact that war is not inevitable does not mean that it is completely out of the question in the future, since the buildup of arms and the war of accusations are inherently dangerous. Likewise, the likely motives of both Russia and the United States, which strongly oppose imminent war, may change. The misconceptions that now dominate Washington, especially the view of the enemy as insane, do not augur well.
There remains a pressing question. Did the Washington alarmists really believe this themselves, or was the agreement fabricated by fear of war? It's a difficult choice between two options: the first option says they played fair, and the second option suggests that we were all the objects of a well-thought-out plan. What cannot be denied is that the fear of war, when the media faithfully performed its role, has brought great benefits to the hawks. LNG representatives have made significant progress in their campaign to prevent the opening of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. The increase in the transfer of military personnel to Eastern Europe and the sale of weapons to Ukraine satisfy the interests of the military-industrial complex. The anti-Russian coalition launched its campaign to obtain from Congress the legal authority to completely end relations with Russia.

The smartest thing about the administration's approach is that if there is no war, Biden and Blinken can argue that it was all thanks to them and their strong statesmanship. The containment was successful! Our solid leadership made it! We're not quite at this part of uncovering the conspiracy yet, but we're getting there as US intelligence appears to be getting no data on its projected 175,000 Russian troops on the border with Ukraine. At the latest congressional briefing on February 5, the latest intelligence estimate was that 130,000 troops had been mobilized, with only 62,000 combat forces deployed scattered across Ukraine's periphery. One can count on the future reduction of their numbers (as the Russian exercises are curtailed) to be due to the wise leadership of the Biden administration.


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